Recurring Dreams

She’s standing alone in the school courtyard. Or maybe it’s her college building. Sometimes it’s her University dorms. Other times she can’t quite place where she is; it’s familiar and yet alien all at the same time. It only serves to compound her growing discomfort.

Where is everyone? They must be in class. But then shouldn’t she be in class? Her gut clenches at the thought. She’s never been late to a lesson, not ever. If anything, she’s always too early and has to sit outside with a book to pass the time. The very idea of having to walk into a classroom, all eyes turning towards her, the teacher having to stop mid-sentence, makes her break out into a cold sweat.

Stay calm. Just figure out where you’re supposed to be going first of all.

She reaches for her bag. It’s not there. How did she forget to bring her bag? How is she going to get through the day without any books? Wait, wasn’t there a test today? Oh, that’s it, isn’t it? There was a big test that she was supposed to study for and she’s forgotten. She doesn’t even remember what subject it’s for. She wracks her brain trying to remember all of her classes but everything is just a smudge on a mental timetable.

A timetable.

That’s what she needs. Once she can see where she’s meant to be, everything else will fall into place and she won’t have this bizarre amnesia.

She finds reception with ease although it doesn’t look quite as she remembered. The person behind the desk smiles at her but something about it doesn’t belong. Or maybe it’s the woman who doesn’t belong. She looks familiar but the setting isn’t right, somehow. She has to shrug it off; there are more pressing matters at hand.

She asks for her timetable, claiming that she lost it, despite having no recollection of having it in the first place. She hopes no one questions her on her lack of materials. Her name isn’t in the system. She asks them to check again. Of course she’s in the system, this is her school (or college, or university…), she didn’t just stumble in from the street. She belongs here, she has classes here and she is missing one right now. Probably a test.

No, wait. Not a test. A presentation! Even worse. She hasn’t prepared anything, all of her notes must still be at home. She breaks out into a cold sweat, imagining having to stand in front of the whole school and recite something from memory. A memory that is clearly malfunctioning right now, seeing as she can’t even recall what subject the presentation is for.

The harder she tries to remember what classes she takes, the blurrier it seems to become in her mind. She power-walks through the corridors, hoping that the flashes of the rooms either side of her might jog something in her mind. But instead it just serves to make her more anxious. She’s already so late, wandering aimlessly around for what feels like hours. There’s no concept of time here, only that she knows she’s running out of it. Maybe it’s already too late. Maybe the test or presentation or class finished hours ago and this is all fruitless.

It feels like the end of the world. Never had skipping a class felt as hopeless as this. She shouldn’t show her face here again, it’s too late. Everything is ruined and she should just give up now. If only she could figure out where she was supposed to have been going-

She wakes up in her bed, checking her phone to see the time. 07:05. School hasn’t even started yet. Her head clears a little more and she frowns to herself.

She’s 29 years old. She hasn’t been in education for over 10 years.

Dreams really are the worst, she thinks to herself as she drifts back off to sleep.

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